Written by Personal Branding Guru, John Purkiss
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, famously said, "Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room". But why should you care? Well, for one thing, the people with strong personal brands get things done faster and make more money than they otherwise would. Whether you are an entrepreneur raising venture capital, or a chief executive aiming to attract the best staff in your industry, your personal brand can make a big difference.
The Hollywood A list, sports stars and rock musicians caught onto the power of personal branding a long time ago. Since then, globalisation has made their brands even more valuable, in their lifetimes and beyond. Angelina Jolie, David Beckham and Michael Jackson have all shown how a personal brand can transcend national boundaries. By contrast, most executives have paid far less attention to their personal brands than they have to marketing their products, services or companies.
So how do you build your personal brand? The first point to note is that the process is more subtle than when you are marketing a product or service. Simply put, human beings are more complex. Each of us has many facets. The question is, which facet are you going to show to the outside world, i.e. the people beyond your immediate circle who are going to spend very little time deciding whether they want to invest in your business or work with you?
In short, you have to know yourself before you can market or sell yourself. Most of us do not know ourselves as well as we could. The way we see ourselves is not necessarily the way other people see us. Fortunately, there are some simple yet powerful exercises that enable us to figure this out.
The first step is to identify your talents and, more specifically, the talents you love to use. You can discover your talents, but you cannot change them. You will have already developed some of them into particular skills, or used them to acquire a particular type of experience. There may be other talents that you may have ignored or simply not developed until now.
I invite you to make a list of the high points in your life so far. The way to discover them is to look back over your life and think about the times you remember with some clarity, when you felt great. Which talents were you using? How were you using them? Where were you? In what kind of situation? This will tell you how you need to use your talents in order to love what you do and perform at your best.
Now it is time to start identifying your values. Take a blank sheet of paper and make a list of all the people you admire, for whatever reason. Include real people - the living and the dead - as well as your favourite fictional characters. Now make a note of the qualities for which you admire each person. Certain qualities are likely to appear among several people on the list. These qualities are your values. They are what you believe is important in your life and work.
The third step is to identify your main archetype (a symbol which is recognised by people in all cultures). The most powerful brands strongly evoke one archetype, so people instinctively know what to expect from them. It also makes them highly memorable. For example, Innocent Smoothies evoke the Innocent archetype. Stelios Hajji-Ioannou evokes the Ordinary Guy. Steve Jobs evokes the Magician. Jack Nicholson evokes the Outlaw. Coco Chanel evokes the Lover.*
John Purkiss is the co-author of Brand You - Turn Your Unique Talents into a Winning Formula.
*You can download a list of the 12 archetypes used in personal branding free of charge at www.brandyou.info